Barons Roll In Peavy's Rehab Start Against Montgomery

Barons Roll In Peavy's Rehab Start Against Montgomery

Friday April 8, 2011
Posted: 10:10 p.m.

WHITE SOXBirmingham AA
Winning streaks were hard to come by for Birmingham last season. The Barons won 53 games and, for much of the year, flirted with franchise and league futility records. Yet, after defeating Montgomery for the second time in as many nights on Friday, this time by a 7-2 count, Birmingham has laid the groundwork for what could be a much more impressive season away from home.

The Barons won a league-low 23 road games in 2010 but have already won two this year and Friday night they used the long ball to get their point across. Birmingham hit three homers, including a pair in the eighth inning that broke open what had been a close game. Seth Lomans solo homer and Kenny Williams three-run shot increased the Barons lead after Josh Phegleys solo homer in the seventh snapped what had been a 2-2 tie.

Jake Peavy started for the Barons in a rehab assignment and allowed two unearned runs on five hits in 3 23 innings. He was making his first appearance since March 19 as he works his way back from rotator cuff tendinitis. Matt Zaleski earned the win, giging up just two hits over 5 13 shutout innings.

Charlotte AAA
Jeffrey Marquez has had his moments during the previous two seasons while pitching for Charlotte but very few were as impressive as the effort he put forth Friday night in a 5-0 victory over visiting Norfolk.

Marquez tossed six shutout innings, striking out six and allowing only three hits as the Knights won for the second time in as many outings. The performance was a fine way to start the season, erasing the sour note on which Marquez ended his 2010 season. The right-hander won eight games for the Knights last year but was 0-5 with a 5.97 ERA in his last eight starts.

Anthony Carter and Josh Kinney combined to toss three shutout innings in relief.

Gookie Dawkins had three hits, including a homer and three RBIs, giving him a pair of homers and four RBIs through two games. Stefan Gartrell also had a homer and two RBIs to help make a winner of Marquez.
Winston-Salem A
Ron Rivas RBI single in the bottom of the 10th capped a two-run rally and lifted Kinston to a 7-6 victory over Winston-Salem in the season-opener for both teams at Grainger Stadium.

Jared Mitchells RBI single in the top half of the inning had given the Dash a 6-5 lead but an Adam Abraham double combined with Kyle Davis throwing error knotted the score at 6-6 and set the stage for Rivas game-winning hit.

Mitchell was seeing his first game action since 2009. He suffered a severe ankle injury during Spring Training in 2010 that kept him sidelined for the entire season. Mitchell finished with two hits, including a triple, and two RBIs. Ian Gac had a homer and drove in two.

Brandon Kloess was tagged with the loss, allowing both runs. Terry Doyle started and allowed a run in four innings while striking out eight.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators game against Lakewood was postponed until Saturday because of rain. The game will be made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 4:05. Both games will be seven innings.

CUBSTennessee AA
The Smokies put on another hitting clinic Friday night, pounding out 15 more hits en route to another victory at Chattanooga, this one coming by a 6-3 margin. Tennessee has 32 hits in its two victories.

Brett Jackson, Rebel Ridling and Josh Vitters two RBIs each had two more hits while Blake Lalli picked up three hits. It was enough to give Marco Carillo the victory after he pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Rafael Dolis started and left allowing a run on two hits and two walks in four innings.
Iowa AAA
Matt Camps two-run double highlighted a three-run eighth inning as Iowa edged by Round Rock, 6-4, at the Dell Diamond Friday night.

Lou Montanez picked up an RBI single to cap the rally leaving the I-Cubs pen to hold off the Express, which did manage to tack on an eight-inning run. The double was one of two for Camp. Bobby Scales also had a pair of doubles.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx started and allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out six and didnt walk a batter. Despite allowing a run in 1 13 innings, Chris Carpenter picked up the victory in relief.

In other news, the Cubs recalled RHP Jeff Stevens, who will replace Randy Wells after he was placed on the disabled list. LHP Polin Trinidad will join Iowa from Double-A Tennessee and pitch out of the bullpen.

Daytona A
The Cubs connected for a pair of first-inning homers Friday night and romped by Brevard County, 7-3, at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Justin Bours three-run shot gave Daytona the early lead after the Manatees had taken a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning. Wellington Castillo followed with a double before Mike Burgess went deep for the second consecutive evening. The Cubs tacked on runs in the fifth and seventh innings as Jae-Hoon Ha picked up a pair of hits, scored twice and drove in a run to contribute to the offensive outburst.

Nick Struck allowed one unearned run over five innings to pick up the victory. He was 1-2 in three outings for Daytona last season after winning eight games in Peoria.
Peoria A
The Chiefs split a pair of games with Cedar Rapids, dropping the completion of Thursdays season-opener, 7-3, before taking the regularly scheduled contest, 8-2.

The Kernels scored five ninth-inning runs to break open what had been a 2-2 game when the rain forced play to be halted Thursday evening. Jeff Antigua allowed all five runs on four hits and a walk.

The Chiefs rallied in the nightcap, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and tacking on three runs in the eighth as Cedar Rapids struggled to find its offense. The Kernels managed only three hits, none of which came off starter Austin Kirk, who tossed four no-hit innings though he did walk a pair. Kirk, a third-round pick in 2009, was 1-1 in three relief appearances for the Chiefs last year.

Juan Serrano earned the win, allowing a run on one hit in three innings. Elliott Soto had three hits for the Chiefs while Rubi Silva drove in a pair.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

The consummate pro: How Taj Gibson has become the Bulls' version of Udonis Haslem

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The consummate pro: How Taj Gibson has become the Bulls' version of Udonis Haslem

The 2011 Eastern Conference Finals between the Bulls and Miami Heat featured three future Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Derrick Rose had been named the youngest league MVP in league history weeks earlier. Luol Deng was blossoming and would earn All-Star nods in each of the following two seasons. $82 million man Carlos Boozer had averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in his first season with the Bulls. The series was loaded with star power.

But buried deep in that series was a matchup of unsung reserves that influenced the series far greater than their numbers in the box score indicated. Udonis Haslem averaged just 4.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 22 minutes in the series – the Heat won in five games – but his impact was felt nonetheless, in part because of the physicality he brought against an energetic second-year forward named Taj Gibson.

“When we played them in the Eastern Conference Finals, Gibson had an incredible impact on that series, and (Haslem) was just coming back from an injury,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said before Saturday’s tilt between the Bulls and Heat. “And we thought that was probably the missing component in that series early on, was having a player like UD to match up against (Gibson). And that really helped us close that series.”

Five years later Haslem is on the final leg of his NBA career. He’s only appeared sparingly in seven games for the Heat in this his 14th NBA season. But the two-time NBA champion has had a lasting impact on the Heat organization – so much so that they allowed him to miss Friday’s game to attend his son’s state-title football game in Florida – and has etched himself in Heat lore, despite never averaging more than 12 points or nine rebounds in a season.

It’s not unlike the career path Gibson has taken in his eight seasons in Chicago. The now-31-year-old Gibson has spent the majority of his career playing behind the likes of Carlos Boozer, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. And while he’s been an integral part of the Bulls’ rotation since joining the team in 2009, his role has never matched his ability or production. It’s why Haslem said he sees so much of himself in Gibson, an unselfish, care-free teammate, yet also someone who is willing to work every day despite the lack of accolades.

“Taj plays hard, man. He’s a guy that gets all the dirty work done. The banging down in the paint, he knocks down that 15-footer, (he) rebounds,” Haslem told CSNChicago.com. “A lot of similarities to myself when I was a little younger. Like you said, unsung. Doesn’t look for any attention, doesn’t look for any glory. Just goes out there, is professional, and does his job every night.”

And in his eighth NBA season, Gibson has done his job every night incredibly well. Through 23 games he’s posted career-best numbers in field goal percentage, rebounds, assists and steals, and isn’t far off in points and blocks per game. His 16.9 PER would be a career-high.

He’s done all this with little real estate in the spotlight. Jimmy Butler has cemented himself as a legitimate MVP candidate, and free-agent acquisitions Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have earned headlines.

But Gibson has been as reliable and consistent a frontcourt player as the Bulls have – he’s one of three players to have appeared in all 23 games this season – and he’s playing some of his best basketball while the Bulls are mired in a mini-slump.

“He’s a rock for us on this team,” Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s going to go out and do his job. He’s never going to complain about his role. He’s going to put on his hard hat and make the little plays that may not show up in the box score, but help you win.”

Including Gibson’s 13-point, seven-rebound effort in Saturday’s win over the Heat, he’s averaging 12.6 points on 58 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds in the Bulls’ last 11 games. He’s corralled 16 offensive rebounds in that span – including two on Saturday that he put back for layups – and is the main reason the Bulls entered as the league’s top offensive rebounding team in the league (and second in total rebound percentage). The Bulls are also nearly six points per 100 possessions better defensively with Gibson on the floor.

Gibson’s and Haslem’s career numbers are eerily similar – Gibson has averaged 9.3 points on 49 percent shooting and 6.4 rebounds, compared to Haslem’s 7.9 points on 49 percent shooting and 7.0 rebounds, with this year excluded. And both players accomplished their numbers while acting as the third scoring option, at best, on their respective teams. Wade, who spent 13 seasons with Haslem, also sees similarities in the two forward’s games and personalities.

“Taj does his job. He doesn’t try to do too much. Some nights he’s featured a lot. Some nights he’s not. He’s out there to do his job, wants to win,” he said. “(Haslem and Gibson) are very similar. He has that mentality where he’s a workhorse and he’s going to do whatever it takes.”

Added Spoelstra: “Incredible amount of similar qualities. In my mind both those guys are winning players and have all the intangibles and toughness. Doing the little things, the dirty work, both those guys embody all those qualities. We’ve always respected Gibson because of that.”

Gibson is third on the Bulls in field goal attempts per game, the first time in his career he’s been higher than fifth in that category. The Bulls are using him more than ever before, and it’s paying off. He's in the final year of his four-year contract with the Bulls, and is looking at a significant pay raise in free agency this coming summer. Whether his future is in Chicago or elsewhere, don’t expect him to change his persona or mentality anytime soon. Much like Haslem did for years in Miami, Gibson has defined being a consummate professional, teammate and player.

“When you’re on championship teams, competing for a championship, trying to go deep in the playoffs, trying to do special things, guys are doing to have to sacrifice their game. Everybody can’t play big minutes; everybody can’t take the shots,” he said after the Bulls’ win over the Cavs on Thursday. “I’m one of the guys that sacrificed my game for the good of the team. Whatever the coach wants me to do, I’m going to go out and do (it).

“If a coach wants me to set 100 screens and not take a shot, I’m gonna do that because I’m about helping the team. And that’s what I’ve been doing all these years. As long as I’m out there enjoying myself, having fun and playing with great teammates, I’m blessed.”

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Morning Update: Bulls take down Heat for second time this season

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